Dez Bryant

NFL Rookie Rankings – Week 4

OFFENSE
1.
Sam Bradford, Rams
Bradford continues to improve and now has the Rams in 1st place. He’s completed over 56 pct of his passes in all four games this year.

2. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez had another five catches on Monday night against the Dolphins. He leads all rookies in receiving yards.

3. Jahvid Best, Lions
Best was effective against the Packers, but didn’t break off any game-changing plays. He also lost a costly fumble.

4. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Bryant and the Cowboys were off this week. He’s averaging over 50 receiving yards per game.

5. Mike Iupati, 49ers
Not much has gone right for the 49ers, but Iupati has emerged as one of the league’s best run-blocking interior linemen.

DEFENSE
1. Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi had another big game against the Patriots on Monday night. He recorded his second sack of the season and two quarterback pressures.

2. Nate Allen, Eagles
Allen has been one of the best all-around safeties in the game this year. He excels in coverage, in run support and even as a pass rusher.

3. Tyson Alualu, Jaguars
Alualu was mostly held in check against the Colts last week, but his overall body of work keeps him in the top three.

4. Devin McCourty, Patriots
McCourty looked very good on Monday night, allowing just two catches for four yards. He’s been consistent all season despite being a frequent target.

5. Brandon Graham, Eagles
Graham is arguably the best rookie pass rusher, which is enough to land him a spot on the list, but he is one dimensional. His lack of skills against the run will hold him back from moving much further up the list.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Jaguars, Lions, Patriots 2 Comments

NFL Rookie Rankings – Week 3

OFFENSE
1. Jahvid Best, Lions
Best was injured in the Lions Week 3 loss to Minnesota, but he has still be easily the most productive rookie on the offensive side of the ball. However, his status is up in the air for Week 4, which could allow someone to sneak up and steal the top spot.

2. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez has emerged as a favorite target of Tom Brady, running many of the same routes that Wes Welker runs. He leads all rookies in receiving yards and has looked like one of the top receiving tight ends in the game through three weeks.

3. Sam Bradford, Rams
Bradford picked up the first win of his career last week against the Redskins. It was easily the most productive game of his short career as he completed over 60 percent of his passes for 235 yards.

4. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Bryant isn’t threatening Miles Austin as the Cowboys top receiver, but he has topped the 50-yard mark in all three games so far this season. That, coupled with his production on special teams, has made him one of the most productive rookies.

5. Jordan Shipley, Bengals
Shipley falls from 2nd to 5th this week after catching just three passes against the Panthers.

DEFENSE
1. Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi remains the most productive defensive rookie for the third straight week. He has become the most productive all-around linebacker in Miami, making him a perfect compliment to the pass rushing skills of Cameron Wake.

2. Tyson Alualu, Jaguars
Alualu picked up his second sack of the season and added two more quarterback hits. His production against the run needs work, but he has looked dominant at times as an interior pass rusher.

3. Derrick Morgan, Titans
Morgan has been coming off the bench, but it may only be a matter of time before he’s starting. He has impressed as a pass rusher and against the run.

4. Nate Allen, Eagles
Allen has changed the Eagles secondary, which struggled at times last season, and filled the void at free safety. He even picked up a sack this past week against the Jaguars.

5. Brandon Graham, Eagles
Graham is arguably the best rookie pass rusher, which is enough to land him a spot on the list, but he is one dimensional. His lack of skills against the run will hold him back from moving much further up the list.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bengals, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Jaguars, Lions, Patriots, Rams, Titans Comments Off

NFL Rookie Rankings – Week 2

OFFENSE
1. Jahvid Best, Lions
Best is the runaway leader among offensive rookies after two weeks. He ranks second among rookies in rushing yards and leads all rookies in receiving yards. He has given the Lions offense a new look and is emerging as one of the most dangerous playmakers in the league.

2. Jordan Shipley, Bengals
Shipley caught five passes again this past week, giving him 10 for 124 yards on the season. He has emerged as legitimate a third option behind Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco and has given the Bengals perhaps the best trio of receivers in the league.

3. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Bryant caught just two passes this week, but both were big 26-yard plays. He also returned a put 62 yards for a touchdown and is averaging 19.3 yards per return on the season.

4. Sam Bradford, Rams
The Rams scaled back the workload for Bradford in Week 2, as he attempted just 25 passes. He is completing 57.5 percent of his passes and averaging 5.3 yards per attempt – both mediocre numbers, but impressive for a rookie on a team like the Rams.

5. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez is emerging as one of the Patriots most explosive weapons this season. He ranks second among rookies this season with 146 receiving yards on just seven catches.

DEFENSE
1. Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi played a key role in stopping the Vikings last week, and is emerging as a leader on the Dolphins defense. He is the most well-balanced rookie linebacker in terms of ability as a pass rusher and run stuffer.

2. Rolando McClain, Raiders
McClain anchored the Raiders defense in their win over the Rams last week. He already looks like one of the best middle linebackers against the run and the Raiders defense has improved as a result.

3. Derrick Morgan, Titans
Morgan recorded a sack for the second straight week but that’s not the only reason he’s ranked. He has done an excellent job holding up at the point of attack and the Titans run defense has improved as a result.

4. T.J. Ward, Browns
Ward has been one of the few bright spots for the Browns this season. He has been like an extra linebacker for the Browns run defense… which they have definitely needed.

5. Brandon Graham, Eagles
Graham picked up his first career sack last week, and looks like the best pure rookie pass rusher in the league. However, he’s being used in a rotation almost exclusively as a pass rusher which is why he isn’t ranked higher.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Lions, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Titans Comments Off

NFL Rookie Rankings – Week 1

OFFENSE
1.
Sam Bradford, Rams
The Rams asked Bradford to carry the team in his first professional game and he did just that. Bradford 32 of 55 passes for 253 yards in a near upset of the Cardinals. He did throw three interceptions (one on a hail mary) but it was an impressive debut nonetheless.

2. Jordan Shipley, Bengals
Shipley led all rookie receivers with 82 yards on five catches Sunday. All five of his receptions went for first downs, including a 51-yard reception. After seeing Shipley’s performance, its easy to see why the Bengals didn’t feel the need to keep Antonio Bryant around.

3. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
The Cowboys fed it to Bryant early and often as he caught eight balls for 56 yards. He was primarily used on short passes, as the Cowboys looked to him to make plays after the catch. Four of his receptions went for first downs, with a long of 15 yards.

4. Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers
Pouncey gave the Steelers an immediate upgrade at center, replacing Jeff Hartings. The Steelers were back to the power-running game that they’re known for, with Rashard Mendenhall averaging over five yards per carry.

5. Ryan Mathews, Chargers
Mathews didn’t set the world on fire, but he was solid in his debut against Kansas City. He racked up 75 yards on 19 carries, a modest 3.9 yards per attempt.  He also lost a fumble which led to a Chiefs touchdown.

DEFENSE
1. Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi stepped into the Dolphins starting lineup and was all over the field against the Bills. He recorded one sack, and was consistently getting pressure on Trent Edwards. With production like this, the ‘Phins won’t miss Jason Taylor or Joey Porter.

2. Brandon Graham, Eagles
Graham made an immediate impact for the Eagles pass rush, consistently getting into the backfield and pressuring Aaron Rodgers. He didn’t record a sack, but his efforts did not go unnoticed.

3. Rolando McClain, Raiders
McClain fully lived up to expectations in his first game with the Raiders. He looked like a veteran, showing the impressive instincts that made him a star at Alabama. With McClain in the middle, the Raiders should be much improved.

4. T.J. Ward, Browns
Not much went right for the Browns on Sunday, but Ward already looks like an upgrade at strong safety over last year’s primary starter Abe Elam. He did a nice job in coverage against Kellen Winslow, and was consistently stepping up to help out against the run.

5. Eric Berry, Chiefs
Berry was quietly effective against the Chargers, helping the Chiefs pull off the upset. He didn’t come up with any big plays but was consistently in the right position, providing support for the Chiefs corners. It’s only a matter of time before he comes up with some game-changing interceptions.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bengals, Browns, Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Raiders, Rams, Steelers Comments Off

Training Camp Preview: Cowboys

Biggest Question Mark: Roy Williams/Dez Bryant
The Cowboys have as much talent as anyone at the wide receiver position. But are they ready to live up to expectations? Roy Williams has been a huge disappointment since coming to Dallas. And Dez Bryant must prove that not only is he ready to play on Sundays, but that he won’t be a distraction off the field.

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 09: Running back Felix Jones #28 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Is Felix Jones set to take over in Dallas?

Position Battle to Watch: Running Back
The Cowboys three-headed monster at running back hasn’t become a distraction yet, but the potential is there. Rumors have floated around this offseason that Felix Jones is the favorite to win the starting job, potentially making Tashard Choice or Marion Barber available. Unless a move is made this summer, it could be difficult for Wade Phillips to juggle three quality running backs for a third straight season.

Impact Rookie: Sean Lee
Dez Bryant will get all the attention, but Lee is in a very similar position on the defensive side of the football. Keith Brooking and Bradie James have the starting jobs locked up, but Brooking will turn 35 in October. That means there will be plenty of opportunities for Lee to get on the field and make some plays, potentially taking a starting job away from one of the veterans.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Cowboys

The selection of Dez Bryant came as no surprise, we all know Jerry Jones loved him, but it is still a puzzling move. The Cowboys had nice trio of receivers last year with Miles Austin, Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton. Despite Williams’ struggles the addition of Bryant seems unnecessary, especially with other holes to fill.

Bryant is an elite talent, but concerns about his maturity level are not blown out of proportion as some will have you believe. There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about his ability to handle life in the NFL. Obviously the Cowboys felt that the risk/reward was tilted in their favor with the 24th pick. Its hard to argue with that assessment considering that, talent-wise, he has the skills of an obvious top-10 pick.

I love the selection of Sean Lee in the 2nd round. Keith Brooking turns 35 in October, and his starting job will likely be handed to Lee in 2011. That said, I don’t see how they could justify taking a wide receiver and a linebacker with their first two picks. The Cowboys have every reason to believe they can contend for a Super Bowl title in 2010, but how do they plan on doing that without a left tackle? Charles Brown was on the board and looked like an obvious choice. An argument could have been made for Vlad Ducasse or Jared Veldheer as well.

In terms of upside, it doesn’t get much better than Akwasi Owusu-Ansah in the 4th round. I think he has the size and speed to be an elite player in the NFL at either free safety or cornerback. However, small school defensive backs rarely make a smooth transition to the NFL which is a big reason why he fell on draft day. He’s in a great position in Dallas to sit and learn if he needs to, but he’s definitely in the mix for the starting free safety job.

Sam Young will be given the chance to win the starting left tackle job, but only because no one else is an obvious candidate. Unless they bring someone in between now and the start of the season, the competition will likely be between Young and Doug Free.

Jamar Wall was a nice 6th round pick. He can provide depth at cornerback or free safety. He’s nothing special, but should be able to make the Cowboys roster.

Sean Lissemore will be given a chance to compete for a backup job at defensive end, transitioning from playing tackle in college. He’s fairly athletic for his size and has some upside, but he’ll have to fight for a roster spot.

Overall the Cowboys did a nice job in the draft but failed to add a guaranteed solution to their problems at either left tackle or free safety. For a team in contention for a championship, that’s a major oversight. On the bright side, they did get two players in the first two rounds that project as future starters for years to come. They both come with risks though (character and injury) raising some concerns that this draft could wind up being a major flop.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Cowboys, Draft Grades - 2010 Comments Off

A look at why Dez Bryant’s stock has fallen

We’ve been hearing all winter and spring about how Dez Bryant‘s character concerns are going cause him to fall on draft day.

In fact, the rumors have become so rampant that some are saying it has been blown out of proportion by teams lower in the draft trying to cause him to fall. Bryant’s defenders point to the fact that he’s never been in trouble with the law, and that his issues are far smaller than those of players who enter the draft with criminal backgrounds.

NCAA Football: Pacific Life Holiday Bowl DEC 30In a sense, they’re right. There’s no reason to believe that Bryant will do anything to get himself suspended in the NFL. He’s never been in legal trouble and there have been no indications that he’s even the type of person who puts himself in situations where bad things tend to happen (i.e. at a night club at 3am).

However, Bryant’s character flaws may actually be more concerning than anyone with a checkered past.

Teams are concerned with Bryant’s work ethic. In college he had a tendency to show up late for everything – meetings, practice and even games. That alone raises a huge red flag.

In the NFL players with off-field character concerns typically get second, third and fourth chances because it rarely impacts their play on the field. Take Terrell Owens for example. He presents a significant off-field risk to any team he plays for, however, his work ethic is so impressive that teams are willing to take a chance. No matter what he does or says away from the field, teams can count on him to be in top physical condition in order to perform on game day.

That cannot be said for a player like Bryant. Teams are genuinely worried that he will have a difficult learning curve in the NFL because of his lack of work ethic. Wide receivers rarely make a significant impact in the NFL before their 3rd year in the league. Its perhaps the slowest developing position in the game. Factor in Bryant’s work ethic and you could be looking at an even longer time frame before he develops into the elite receiver that he has the potential to become.

The NFL has a “win-now” attitude. Most coaches and general managers don’t have the job security to look three years down the road. For this reason, fewer receivers are being selected high in the draft.

This mind set could cause Bryant to fall on draft day. It could also lead to him being selected by one of the few organizations that does provide job security to its decision makers such as the Steelers or Patriots.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Patriots, Steelers Comments Off

How does the Holmes trade shake up the draft?

With Santonio Holmes on his way out of Pittsburgh, suddenly the draft intentions of the Steelers and Jets are becoming a little more clear.

Prior to the trade most mock drafts had the Jets taking either Golden Tate or Demaryius Thomas. Both of those options now seem like longshots. With Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards and Holmes, the Jets have enough players fighting for the ball already.

With receiver off their list of needs, the Jets likely turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball. Given the depth of hybrid defensive end/linebackers in this year’s draft, its likely that someone falls to the the Jets. Jason Pierre-Paul, Brandon Graham, Sergio Kindle and Jerry Hughes could all be options.

Clemson v Georgia Tech

Could Thomas now be a target of the Steelers?

Its also possible that they’ll consider Terrence Cody. Both Kris Jenkins (30) and Sione Pouha (31) are getting up there in age, and the Jets may want to build for the future at nose tackle.

As for the Steelers, wide receiver now becomes an option in the 1st round. I previously had them selecting Dez Bryant in earlier versions of my mock draft, but stated that it was simply a luxury pick. Now, it would become more of a need-based selection. Three of the Steelers top four receivers – Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antwaan Randle El and Arnez Battle are over 30. Three of them are also 6’0″ or shorter.

The need for a big receiver has never been greater, and Roethlisberger has been calling for one for years. Limas Sweed has failed to pan out, and it may be time for the Steelers to try again. Bryant and Demaryius Thomas are both options in the 1st round.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Jets, Steelers 1 Comment

How the Donovan McNabb trade could impact the draft

We’ve heard all sorts of crazy rumors about Donovan McNabb over the past two weeks. Based on the number of trade rumors out there, it would certainly seem as though he’s headed out of Philly sooner rather than later. But rather than break down where he may end up, lets take a look at how the draft will change based on where he could land…

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys - Wild Card Round

McNabb doesn't want to leave, but if he does it will shake up the 1st round

If McNabb lands in St. Louis…
The most obvious repercussion of this scenario is that Sam Bradford is no longer projected as the top pick. Ndamukong Suh would likely go No. 1 overall and Gerald McCoy No. 2. Suddenly the Bucs would be on the clock with no need for a quarterback, but with a highly sought after prospect on the board. The Redskins would be holding their breath hoping no one trades up, while the Browns, Bills and possibly others would be on the phone with Tampa trying move up for Bradford. Assuming he fell to Washington, Jimmy Clausen would then fall to the Bills at No. 9. The real winner could be Eric Berry who suddenly becomes an option at No. 3 for Bucs.

If McNabb lands in Oakland…
Not much should change in this scenario, but you just never know with Al Davis. In an effort to keep McNabb happy, and around for longer than one season, Davis may decide to draft Dez Bryant. It sounds ridiculous at first thought, but it may not be such a bad idea. Heyward-Bey was a terrible selection last year, and he showed no signs of being a meaningful contributor anytime soon. Bryant has the potential to be an immediate impact receiver. Or, since Davis tends to shy away from receivers who run in the 4.5 or 4.6 range, maybe he goes way off the board for someone else. Jermaine Gresham? Golden Tate? Crazier things have happened.

If McNabb lands in Buffalo…
This may be the best scenario for McNabb, but its the worst scenario for Clausen. Assuming Bradford goes No. 1 and the Redskins take Russell Okung, Clausen could fall far. The Browns and Seahawks don’t appear to have an interest. The 49ers may be an option, but wouldn’t be a guarantee. If he slides past them at No. 17, there isn’t an obvious landing spot until the Vikings at No. 30. Its likely that someone would need to trade back into the 1st round to stop Clausen’s free fall.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Browns, Eagles, Raiders, Redskins, Vikings Comments Off

Could Dolphins target Taylor Mays?

I’ve had the Dolphins paired up with Dan Williams in my mock draft for about a month now. He would fill their need for a nose tackle, which is greater than ever now that Jason Ferguson is suspended for the first half of the 2010 season. But what if he’s not on the board?

The Bills are transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense and are lacking a true nose tackle. They’d much prefer to take a quarterback (most likely Jimmy Clausen) but if he’s off the board their attention could turn to Williams.

That would leave presumably leave he Dolphins with three options:

1. Take Dez Bryant
Wide receiver is their most glaring need, especially a big target like Bryant. However, Parcells loathes the idea of taking receivers early in the draft. Throw in the fact that Bryant is perceived as lazy and a bit of a prima donna, and it just doesn’t seem like a plausible option.

2. Take the best available pass rusher
The Dolphins need to replace Joey Porter and Jason Taylor. Cameron Wake has one starting outside linebacker job wrapped up, but the other is wide open. Jason Pierre-Paul and Brandon Graham would appear to be great fits. However, its a deep class for hybrid pass rushers, and a quality player could be found later in the draft.

3. Take a free safety
CFB: USC vs UCLA DEC 6The Dolphins parted ways with free safety Gibril Wilson after the season, opening up a hole in the secondary. Earl Thomas is likely to be the highest rated safety on most boards, but he doesn’t quite fit the profile of what Parcells looks for in a defensive back. Parcells has a tendency to become enamored with big, athletic safeties. The best recent example is Pat Watkins, whom he selected in the 5th round in 2006. Watkins never quite panned out, but Parcells thrust him into the starting lineup as a rookie. I remember reading during the season quotes from Parcells marveling at the athleticism of a man his size (6’4″, 220). If he was wowed by Watkins, what must he think of Taylor Mays?

Obviously a lot has to play out in order for the Dolphins to even consider Mays. I have little doubt that Parcells would prefer Dan Williams, but there remains a very realistic possibility that he’s gone by the time Dolphins are on the clock. Mays to the ‘Phins may be a long shot, but don’t be shocked to hear his name called at No. 12 on April 22.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Dolphins 1 Comment